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PITTSBURGH (PittsburghPanthers.com)—Nationally recognized as one of college football’s brightest coaching talents, Pat Narduzzi today was named the new head coach at the University of Pittsburgh.
A coach’s son who grew up 70 miles from Pittsburgh in Youngstown, Ohio—a city that also takes pride in its industrial heritage and football tradition—Narduzzi has spent the past eight years orchestrating Michigan State’s perennially devastating defense. Under his direction, the Spartans are the only team to rank in the nation’s top 10 in total defense and rushing defense each season from 2011-14.
Working under two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year Mark Dantonio, Narduzzi has helped Michigan State to Top 25 finishes in four of the past six seasons. The Spartans finished No. 3 in both polls last year following a Big Ten title and 24-20 victory over No. 5 Stanford in the Rose Bowl. In the wake of that championship season, Narduzzi was named the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Broyles Award, annually presented to the country’s top assistant coach.
This season, Michigan State is ranked No. 8 in the country with a 10-2 record and will face No. 5 Baylor (11-1) in the 2015 AT&T Cotton Bowl on January 1 in Dallas, Texas. The Spartans once again boast an exceptional defense that yields just 293.5 yards per game (seventh best in FBS) and has forced a Big Ten-high 33 turnovers.
“Our goal was not only to find the best football coach but also a person who would uphold the values and mission of the University of Pittsburgh. In Pat Narduzzi we have found that person,” said Pitt’s Acting Athletic Director Dr. Randy Juhl. “His achievements on the football field are well documented. Pat is widely regarded as a rising star in the coaching profession who is ready to lead his own program. It was obvious from our conversations that he also embraces the responsibilities he has beyond the game. Pat wants to impact the lives of his student-athletes long after their Pitt careers end. We are excited about what our young men can accomplish, on and off the field, under his watch.”
“The selection of Pat Narduzzi as our head football coach gave us an exceptionally satisfying conclusion to a very gratifying search,” Pitt Executive Vice Chancellor Jerry Cochran said. “As we began the process, we believed the Pitt head coaching position was a highly attractive opportunity. That belief was only reinforced by the tremendous interest we received from sitting head coaches as well as offensive and defensive coordinators from across the country. Ultimately, our feeling was unanimous that Pat was the best person to lead our program into what will be a very exciting future.”
“I am very honored to be the new head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh,” said Narduzzi, the 37th head coach in the program’s history. “I want to thank Chancellor Gallagher, Executive Vice Chancellor Jerry Cochran, Dr. Randy Juhl and Donna Sanft for providing me with this tremendous opportunity. It is an honor to join a program with such great history and tradition. I am very eager to begin working with the young men who are already in the program and meet people throughout the Pitt community. We are going to work very hard on the field, in the classroom and in the community to make the University of Pittsburgh proud.”
Narduzzi has tutored an impressive list of decorated defensive players, including first team All-Americans in cornerback Darqueze Dennard, safety Kurtis Drummond, linebacker Greg Jones and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.
Dennard was a unanimous All-American in 2013, becoming the first Michigan State cornerback to earn that distinction. He also was the school’s first winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, annually given to college football’s top defensive back. Dennard was a first-round NFL Draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014, the first Spartans DB taken in the initial round since 1961.
Narduzzi has coached 19 first-team All-Big Ten selections. Four players have won the conference’s top individual awards under his watch, including the past two Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year honorees (Dennard in 2013 and Drummond in 2014). Shilique Calhoun was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2013 while Greg Jones was the overall Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
Prior to Michigan State, Narduzzi spent three years (2004-06) as defensive coordinator under Dantonio at Cincinnati, helping the Bearcats to a pair of bowl invitations.
In 2003, Narduzzi was the defensive coordinator at Miami-Ohio under the late Terry Hoeppner. The RedHawks stormed to a 13-1 record that season, capturing the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship and defeating nationally ranked Louisville in the GMAC Bowl to finish No. 10 in the Associated Press poll. While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger headlined Miami’s offense, Narduzzi’s stout unit topped the MAC in rushing defense (19th nationally), scoring defense (22nd nationally) and pass efficiency defense (34th nationally).
Narduzzi served as linebackers coach at Northern Illinois for three seasons (2000-02). NIU won a pair of MAC divisional titles during his tenure and in 2002 had the league’s top rushing defense.
From 1993-98, Narduzzi coached at his alma mater, Rhode Island, serving as the Rams’ defensive coordinator his final two seasons. He began his coaching career at Miami-Ohio, working as a graduate assistant in 1990 and 1991, before earning his first full-time position as receivers coach for the 1992 season.
Narduzzi was an all-state performer at Youngstown’s Ursuline High School, leading the Irish to the Steel Valley championship and Ohio state playoffs as a senior in 1984. He was a starting linebacker under his father, the late Bill Narduzzi, as a freshman at Youngstown State University in 1985 before transferring to Rhode Island and became a three-year starter for the Rams from 1987-89.
Bill Narduzzi was head coach at YSU from 1975-85. He led the Penguins to two NCAA Division II playoff appearances, including the national championship game in 1979, and twice was named the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Coach of the Year.
Pat Narduzzi completed his bachelor's degree in physical education at Rhode Island in 1990 and later earned a Master of Science in sports studies at Miami-Ohio in 1992. He and his wife Donna have four children: Arianna, Christina, Patrick and Isabella.